TARPON SPRINGS - For 30 years, Island House Restaurant, opened in 1963 was a stable along Clearwater Beach, home to locals and tourists alike. It was a favorite spot for Philadelphia Phillies officials during spring training, complete with a baseball wall in the dining room that featured the autographs of hundreds of players who had made their way through the restaurant over the years.
Owner Manuel Houllis, who retrieved the Epiphany cross in 1943, was as well-known as his Greek cuisine.
Eventually, the restaurant closed as the face of Clearwater Beach changed to fit the times. Manuel and his wife, Mary, died in 1998, but their children, Michael and Madelyne, were still stopped in the street by customers who missed their family’s food, specifically the avgolemono soup, or Greek chicken soup with lemon and egg.
TARPON SPRINGS - The Tarpon Springs City Commission has begun discussions about increasing the city’s stormwater rate to help fund upcoming projects.
Tarpon Springs hasn’t changed or updated rates since the creation of the stormwater capital improvement project in 2001, said Bob Robertson, public services program manager, at a June Commission workshop session. The project, which addresses flooding and water quality issues, spends funds in two areas: maintenance and capital improvement work.
Currently, the rate sits at $5.65 per equivalent stormwater unit per month. Each residential property counts as one unit, while commercial properties are calculated by size.
TARPON SPRINGS - As one of the few areas in Pinellas County with undeveloped land, Tarpon Springs is in a unique position to grow. And with the economy finally ticking upward, the city is helping make that easier for developers.
On July 7, the City Commission voted unanimously to sell the city-owned parcel at 115 South Ring Ave. to the Community Redevelopment Area for $10, which makes it a legal transaction.
The lot was residential until about 1966, then used by the Public Works department through the 1990s. Since early 2000, the 500-square-foot structure has been used for storage.
TARPON SPRINGS - After months of talking about streamlining processes using technology to their advantage, the Tarpon Springs City Commission has taken the first step and voted to use administrative review for alcohol licensing permits.
In 2013, the city conducted a business survey in the Community Redevelopment Area on what owners like, dislike and want to see in their community. Of respondents, 50 percent said they wanted a more streamlined permitting and review process, which would allow business to open more quickly; currently applicants must go through the Technical Review Committee, the Planning and Zoning and Board and the Board of Commissioners, a process that takes between two and three months.
Now, the planning director and city manager can grant business and private property owners conditional use approval for the package sale, consumption on premise and manufacture or wholesale distribution of alcoholic beverages.
TARPON SPRINGS - The first step in redeveloping the Meres Town Center at the southeast corner of Meres Boulevard and South Pinellas Avenue has been approved in the form of final plat for the second phase.
The property, which was formerly anchored by a 37,500-square-foot Sweetbay Supermarket and a number of smaller stores including Leslie’s Pool Supplies and Fantastic Sam’s, has been left mostly vacant as businesses left Tarpon Springs. Now owner Forge Capital Partners is working to revitalize the area.
Although currently incomplete, the development plan is expected to call for 236 residential apartments in the town center, as well as existing retail and office space. After the development plan is approved, Forge Capital Partners will apply for a building permit, and then begin construction.
TARPON SPRINGS - Tarpon Springs Police Department’s memorial dedication for Officer Charles Kondek was a somber one, but a heartfelt remembrance of a community hero.
In a final signal of respect and honor, TSPD unveiled the sign for the newly named Harry K. Singletary, Jr., and Officer Charles R. Kondek, Jr., Public Safety Building in front of Kondek’s family and friends on June 12.
“Dec. 21 was a day that changed the mindsets and attitudes of everyone in Tarpon,” said TSPD Maj. Jeff Young. “We can no longer say ‘that won’t happen here.’ It was the act of a coward who took a loved one before his time. There are no words I can say that can ease the family’s pain or the department’s pain.”
TARPON SPRINGS - In preparation for the upcoming budget season, Tarpon Springs Finance Director Ron Harring presented the City Commission with some initial projects at the June 2 Commission meeting.
So far, all city departments have submitted their proposed budgets to the finance department and all revenues and expenditures have been estimated. City Manager Mark LeCouris has met with all department heads and has begun making cuts; he estimated he’d already cut close to $500,000 from the initial budgets. The Budget Advisory Committee has also begun meeting with the department heads.
Harring said he is basing current budget predictions off of the assumption that the millage rate will stay at 5.45, as it has in Tarpon Springs since 2011. Because the property appraiser estimated a taxable value increase between 5 and 6 percent, Tarpon Springs would still be collecting more money in property taxes without having to raise the millage rate.
TARPON SPRINGS - Tarpon Springs Finance Director Ron Harring presented the City Commission with a resolution June 2 to amend the budget for fiscal year 2015 to reflect items not previously budgeted.
At the beginning of the 2015 fiscal year, expenditures and revenues were expected to be $86,924,289; as of earlier this month, the current numbers sit at $88,619,305, an increase of about $1,695,000.
Of the additional expenses, the most expensive was about $475,000 for the new reclaimed water tank. The city also spent about $437,000 for new radios for the police and fire departments, about $195,000 on a new computer-aided dispatch and records management system and about $251,000 to purchase land from the Shepherd Center.
TARPON SPRINGS - Deputy Fire Chief Scott Young of the Tarpon Springs Fire Rescue has been awarded the professional designation of “Chief Fire Officer” (CFO) by the Commission of Professional Credentialing (CPC). Young is one of only 1,056 CFOs worldwide.
The CPC awards the CFO designation only after an individual successfully meets all of the organization’s stringent criteria, including an assessment of the applicant’s education, experience, professional development, technical competencies, contributions to the profession and community involvement. In addition, all applicants are required to identify a future professional development plan.
Beef ‘O’Brady’s Trivia Night SEMINOLE – Beef‘O’Brady’s, 1-799 Park Blvd. N., now offers Trivia Night every Monday, 6 to 8 p.m. The winning team receives a $50 gift certificate. There will be a $5.49 burger with fries special every Monday night. To register a team, call Angel or Mike at 393-2880.
Craft classes at Bay Vista ST. PETERSBURG – Bay Vista Recreation Center, 7000 Fourth St. S., offers craft classes Mondays from 1 to 3 p.m.
They include paper crafts, polymer clay sculpting, felting and more
The cost is $30 for four classes, plus a craft fee.
For more information call 893-7124 or visit www.stpeteparksrec.org.
Life of Birds video CLEARWATER – The Clearwater Audubon Society will present a program on Monday, Aug. 3, 6:30 p.m., at Moccasin Lake Environmental Education Center, 2750 Park Trail Lane.
Cost is a suggested donation of $1 per person. Call 793-2976.
One of the BBC’s “Life of Birds” video programs with David Attenborough will be shown. Popcorn and sodas will be provided.
Manga Book Club TARPON SPRINGS – Manga Book Club, Aug. 3, 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Tarpon Springs Library, 138 E. Lemon St. Youth Services Program. Ages 12 and up.
If you like manga, graphic novels and anime, then this club is the place for you! Hang out and meet other teens who share your interests. Each month, new titles and series will be selected to read and discuss. Members also will enjoy watching popular anime episodes.
Train Weekend LARGO – Ride the miniature trains of Largo Central Railroad on the first full weekend every month in Largo Central Park. The next weekend is Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 2-3, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Rides are free, but donations are accepted.
For more information, call 587-6740 ext. 5014 or visit the “Train Weekend” page at LargoEvents.com.
Military Order of the World Wars meeting CLEARWATER – The Clearwater Chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars meets for lunch on the first Tuesday of each month at the Belleair Country Club, 1 Country Club Lane.
Social hour starts at 11:30 a.m., followed by lunch and a short program.
Military officers who are retired or are on active duty or former officers and their spouses or widows are invited to attend. The MOWW also welcomes new members.
To make reservations or to inquire about becoming a member, call George Smith at 786-5578.